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manner. They have issued orders for taking all American vessels bound to or from English ports—not those only which the English occupy in St. Domingo, but those of their own Islands. They condemn without the formality of a trial. These orders appear, from the information I have received, to have been issued in consequence of letters from Mr. Adet, who, you will see, in his note of November 15th, said the French armed vessels were not merely to capture American vessels, but to practice vexations towards them; and who, I am further informed, wrote to the Commissioners that they could not treat the American vessels too badly. This state of things cannot continue long. It makes little difference whether our vessels go voluntarily to French ports, or are carried in as prizes. In the lat. ter case, they condemn without ceremony-and, in the former, they forcibly take the cargoes, heretofore with promises of payment, which they generally broke ; and now, I am told, without even deigning to give their faithless promises."
ort. In trutny take them ecause going to outrages extend te
Secretary of State to Mr. C. C. Pinckney, Minister to France, dated Department of State, Philadelphia, February 11th, 1797.
[EXTRACT.) 6 The spoliations on our commerce by French privateers are daily increasing, in a manner to set every just principle at defiance. If their acts were simply the violation of our treaty with France, the injuries would be comparatively trifling : but their outrages extend to the capture of our vessels, merely because going to or from a British port : nay, more, they take them when going from a neutral to a French port. In truth, there is, in a multitude of cases, little difference, whether our vessels are carried in as prizes, or go voluntarily to the French ports in the islands, for the purposes of traffic ; the public agents take the cargoes by force, and fix their own terms, giving promises of distant payment, which are seldom duly performed. With regard to the vessels carried in as prizes, the agents and tri. bunals of the French Government act in concert with the privateers. The captured are not admitted to defend their property before the tribunals, the proceedings are wholly ex parte. We can account for such conduct only on the principle of plunder; and were not the pri. vateers acting under the protection of commissions from the French Government, they would be pronounced pirates. Britain has furnished no precedents of such abominable rapine. These proceedings are rapidly rendering the name of Frenchmen as detestable as once it was dear to Americans, and if suffered by their Government to be continued, a total alienation will be inevitable. The facts herc alluded to have not all been subjects of formal communication to our Government, but they are publicly related in such manner as to
leave no doubt of their existence. It will, therefore, be highly important to both countries, and the President earnestly desires you would endeavor to engage the attention of the French Government, (if those desires should not have been anticipated,) to put an end to such atrocities : otherwise, it will be involved, with the immediate actors, in one common fate of indelible infamy,"
No. 83. Consul General U. S. at Paris, to the French Minister of Foreign Af:
fairs, dated the 5th Ventose, 5th year, (28d February, 1797.)
(TRANSLATION.] CITIZEN MINISTER : The Consular Agent of the United States at the port of L'Orient, in his letter of Pluvoise, informs me that the owners of the privateer Hardy are prosecuting before the Tribunal of Commerce of the said Canton, the condemnation of two American ships—the Hope and the Antelope; which these privateersmen manned under the pretext that their (rôles d’equipage) crew lists were not countersigned by a public officer of the United States; and that this formality was required by an ordonnance of the Marine of France.The same Agent informs me that the said Tribunal of Comnierce was to bave written to you, and also to your colleagues, the Ministers of Marine and of Justice, to receive the instructions of Govornment, in relation to the pretensions of the owners of the privateer. It is my duty, under these circumstances, Citizen Minister, for the interest of the commerce of my nation, to address to you some observations on this subject: I must then take the liberty of asserting, that, by no regulations of the United States are our ships subjected to this formal. ity; and that not one of our vessels has (rôle d'equipage,) a crew list thus countersigned : Moreover, in the different treaties and con. ventions that connect America with France, there is not found a single article sufficient to justify the doctrine set forth by the privateer. At the time when there existed a regulation of the former Government of France, that ordered the capture and condemnation of neutral ships, whose rôles d'equipage shall not have been thus attested. This cannot, nor should it be understood, but in relation to neutral ships belonging to Powers bound equally with France, by treaties containing contrary principles. I consider it unnecessary for me to communi. cate on this subject the right and supreme law of nations, being persuaded that you will think with me that every free and independent nation should possess the exclusive right to establish regulations for the management of their own navigation; and that no nation possesses the right to subject the citizens of another power to formalities to be observed in a foreign country, not exacted by the laws of said country, or by those to which said citizens belong. If, contrary to my ex
pectation, Government establish the principle which the captain de sires to see established, this would lead to the condemnation of all the ships belonging to my nation, actually found in the different ports of France, under the faith of treaties, and to authorize the cruizers of the Republic to capture all our merchantmen. Confidently relying on the justice and equity of the Ministers of Government, I am confident that the Tribunals of Commerce receive no instructions to favor such ungrounded pretensions. Accept the assurance of my distinguished consideration.
French Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the Consul General of the United States at Paris, dated 5th Ventose, 5th year (23d February, 1797.)
[TRANSLATION.) Citizen: I have received your letter of this month, relative to the American ships the Hope and the Antelope, the condemnation whereof is prosecuted by the owners of the privateer Hardy, before the tribunal of commerce sitting at L'Orient, because the Róles d'equipage, (ships-rolls,) were not countersigned by a public officer of the United States. You assert in your despatch, tbat, by no regulation of the federal government are the ships of your nation subjected to this formality, and that none of your ships have rôles d’équipage, ships-rolls, so countersigned ; again, you say, in the different treaties aud conventions that unite America with France, there is not found a single article that can justify the doctrine asserted by the owners of the privateer Hardy. Your despatch in this respect contains an essential error. The federal government doubtless has never ceased to look upon the treaty of 1778, as obligatory upon the two nations. In this treaty we find the engagement reciprocally made, not to sail-(when one of the contracting parties is engaged in war,) without “ sea letters, (lettres de mer, ) or passports expressing the name, property, and bulk of the ship, as, also, the name and place of the habitation of the master or commander of the said ships, that it may appear thereby that the ship really and truly belongs to the subject of one of the contracting parties ; which passports shall be made out and granted according to the form annexed to the said treaty of 1778;' these are the very expressions of the 25th article of that treaty, whose object is to avoid and prevent all manner of dissentions and quarrels on one side and the other, the form of the passports, (passports) and (letters) letters necessary to be given to vessels by the 25th article of the abovementioned treaty, constitute an integral part of this treaty, and it becomes obligatory upon the two contracting parties, and it states that “ leave and permission lias been granted, that the said ship has been visited before sailing, that the master or commander of the ship shall make oath before the officers of Marine, that the said ship belongs to one or more of the subjects of
-- , the act whereof shall be put at the end of these presents, as likewise that he will keep, and cause to be kept by his crew on board, the marine ordinances and regulations, and enter in the proper office a list, signed and witnessed, containing the names and sur. names, the places of birth and abode of the crew of his ship, and of all who shall embark on board her ; whom he shall not take on board without the knowledge and permission of the officers of the marine, and in every port or haven where he shall enter with his ship, he shall show this present to the officers and judges of the Marine.” Such are the formalities stipulated in order to prevent the one of the contracting parties from permitting their flag to cover property be. longing to an enemy of the other. Our regulation of the 26th July, 1778, is but the result of the treaty of 6th February of the same year It directs the condemnation of foreign ships, that shall not have on board the rôle d'equipage, (ships roll,) (arrêté, ) made out by the pub. lic officers of the neutral countries where said vessels shall have set sail. I ought to add, citizen, that it is well known that all the commerce of England with the United States has been carried on, since the war, under American colors. We have no guarantee against this perfidious understanding, but in the execution of our treaty. The Tribunal of Commerce sitting at L'Orient will receive the decision of tho Minister of Justice, charged with the direction of the tribunals.
The Executive Directory, by its arrêté of the 12th of the present month, has given the requisite orders for the entire execution of the treaties, conventions, and regulations, relative to the navigation of neutrals, and particularly of those with the Americans. I will transmit to you this arrêté as soon as I shall have received it officially.
Health and fraternity,
CH. DE LA CROIX,
Postscript to a Letter from Mr. C. C. Pinckney, minister of the United
States to France, to the Secretary of State, dated, March 23, 1797.
Since dispatching the original and duplicate of No. 11, I have received information that the ship Charlotte, Captain John Vincent, has been captured and carried into Dunkirk ;-as she is a vessel bought in Europe, and consequently has no sea-letter, and as the Tribunal of Commerce has referred the papers to the Minister of Justice, there can be no doubt but that sentence of condemnation will be pronounced, as in Bryant's case. The French Consul at Cartha. gena, in Spain, has condemned the American Brig Atalante, of YorkTown, Virginia, Elathaco Minor master and owner; he has appealed to the Civil Tribunal, of the Department of " Boriches de Rhone,"
at Aix, in Provence. But as his vessel is also in the same situation as Bryant's, we may expect a similar decision. A French Privateer of St. Malo has captured, and sent into “ Isle de Bas,” an American brig (whose name I have not yet learnt,) from New York, bound to London, with a very valuable cargo of sugars, &c. the pretences for capturing her has not yet been communicated to me; but as the French seem determined to distress our commerce as much as they can, pretences for condemnation are easily fabricated.--I feel poignantly these continual violences offered to our trade and property, and that I am so situated that I cannot afford our countrymen the protection they ought to receive from our government, nor shew them that I even remonstrate against the power which oppresses them. To prevent hearing the firm representations which an American Minister would have found himself obliged to present on account of these rapacious depredations, is one reason, I presume, that the Directory will not permit any one in that capacity to reside in France. Major Mountflorence advises me that he has convinced the head Clerk of the office, whence the answer of the Minister of Foreign Affairs relative to the signature of the Seamen's articles originated, that the Directory had given erroneous construction in respect to them to the treaty of 1778; and that the Clerk had promised to prepare a report to the Minister, and prevail on him to present it to the Directory, to repeal the 4th article of the arrêté of the 12th of Ventose.
I much doubt if they will have the candor to acknowledge their error, for Mr. Adet's long recapitulation in his extravagant appeal to the people shews a determination in them to adhere to every thing they have once advanced, although founded in error ånd palpable mistake. I wrote to Major Mountflorence to be careful in the peti. tion he is preparing for the Captains of the Hope and Antelope, to avoid any expression which might appear in the least disrespectful to either the Executive or Judiciary departments of France. I have desired him to express our grievances firmly and decently, and to use ,no sentiments which might appear to have an intention to foment any division between the people and government, or between one part of the Government and the other. We should disdain to pursue a conduct we disapprove in them.
Extract of a copy of a circular letter, from the French Minister of
Justice, of the 21st Ventose, (11th March,) to the Tribunals of Commerce.
“ The arrêtte of the Executive Directory, of the 12th this month, is a guide pointing out, by a particular case, the course you ought to pursue in all others. The right of reciprocity the legitimate and primi. tive basis of the law of nations, has made it indispensable, and the love of country should watch over its rigorous execution,